Kaleo attributes his unique artistic perspective to his personal journey of agony and ecstasy. His life began in the culturally diverse city of Pasadena, California. Brought up by his mother who continuously struggled financially, the children had to be placed on welfare and Kaleo’s early years were filled with hand-me-down clothes, watered down milk, and old rewrapped toys for Christmas. This was just the start of Kaleo’s trying experiences.
At the age of 5, Kaleo almost died in a horrific accident where he fell head first from a three-story structure and suffered numerous injuries. His amazingly quick recovery exemplifies the mental, physical, and spiritual strength that has come to define this artist. Several other hardships like his mother’s clinical illness, Compulsive Hoarders Disorder, living in a dilapidated home and doing without gas and heating for 13 years, Kaleo’s already difficult situation soon reached its height. It is these trying experiences that have made him the strong, confident, and focused creative personality he is today. It is to those times that Kaleo attributes his present-day artistic success, as well as his lighthearted, fun loving and fully accepting approach to life.
Kaleo’s life has been filled with challenges, but he has always seemed to rise above all of the possible stumbling blocks and has created a quarry of positive stepping-stones along the way. His upbringing in the racially mixed city of Pasadena, his attendance at a predominately African-American high school, and his later work as a teacher in the Pasadena Unified School District have given Kaleo a unique perspective on American society and the diverse cultures which are the subject of his artwork.
Kaleo has always delved into all things with a fiery passion. As a young musician, he was recognized with All-City Music Honors in Pasadena for his musicianship, which later evolved into a successful career in the music business. He was signed to several record labels including Mercury/Universal Records, and as a producer, singer/songwriter has had his music featured in numerous movies and television shows. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he was a member of the UCLA Football team, which won the Pac-10 Championship and later played in the famed Rose Bowl Game.
His first love, art, has always served him well and he has always had a tremendous passion for that mode of creation. He was granted a scholarship at an early age for his visual works, has studied under various art mentors, and has continued to refine his skills throughout his life. Now, Kaleo is a full-time mixed-media visual artist, and couture clothing designer with a passion for creating works of art which he says, “challenges the viewer and evokes emotion with the goal of uplifting his audience through cerebral works of iconic and commercialized juxtapositions.”